REVIEW: Just Go With It [2011]

Score: 4/10 | ★ ½

Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 117 minutes | Release Date: February 11th, 2011 (USA)
Studio: Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Releasing
Director(s): Dennis Dugan
Writer(s): Allan Loeb & Timothy Dowling / I.A.L. Diamond (screenplay Cactus Flower) /
Abe Burrows (stage play) / Pierre Barillet & Jean-Pierre Grédy (French play)

“Holy Devlin, you’re not listening to me”

The past few years have had one mantra—avoid Happy Madison productions. I don’t think it would anger too many people to say that they general suck. It pains me to write it, but it’s the truth. I grew up on Billy Madison; I love The Wedding Singer; add in Big Daddy and you’ve got a pretty memorable trifecta of comedy. The funniest moment at my screening of Just Go with It even harkened back to the good ol’ days when a guy behind me commented how the older woman wanding people for cameras sounded like the lunch lady. It was so true. I could hear her saying, “Have some more sloppy joes. I know how yous kids like ‘em sloppy,” as I walked by with a smile. I miss the days when Jimmy Fallon was the only Adam Sandler copycat around, before Sandler began parodying his own schtick. He must realize the lack of quality; why else would he do Punch-Drunk Love or Reign Over Me, two roles he excels in? I guess the money is just too good. At least he brings his friends along for the ride.

Tell me, how does becoming a plastic surgeon make getting a nose job seem unquestioned? Did he give it to himself? Did a classmate do it for free as practice? I guess the simple fact Sandler’s Danny switches from cardiology to plastic surgery helps make bad prostheses and easy jokes about Botox fly. At least the audience I saw the film with thought so. The actual merits of the profession or necessity of it to have Jennifer Aniston’s Katherine as a secretary/assistant are inconsequential—he could have practiced dentistry for all anyone cared—having a doctor who consults women every day not know how attractive this “Friend’s” body has is another question altogether. Even if she wears the best Old Navy can supply, as the joke goes. But this is the film, everything exists to be jokes surrounding a flimsy story that a two-year old can ruin for you after seeing the trailer once. Come on now, Sandler’s assistant isn’t Rob Schneider in drag. It’s Jennifer Aniston. That casting doesn’t happen unless the 23-year old girlfriend is at risk of becoming expendable.

Speaking of said young teacher at a Catholic private school—I’m surprised the writers didn’t have her in a short skirt for a fetishistic interlude—Brooklyn Decker’s first foray into acting isn’t too bad. She is likeable, she’s attractive, and she’s natural onscreen. There aren’t too many instances to see such considering the filmmakers would rather have her bouncing around in bikinis, but it’s there. I can’t unfortunately say the same for Nick Swardson as Sandler’s obnoxious cousin/best friend. He’s obnoxious, a fake German accent grows tired fast, and his comedy is soooo broad. He channels Will Ferrell throughout the production and really just needs to dial it down a few notches to be tolerable. It’s a comedy; we get it. Sandler gets more laughs trying to contain his anger when in a ‘who can tell the most disgusting lie about the other’ match with Aniston. A modicum of subtlety does in fact prove to be successful. But I’m sorry; I keep talking about actors and characters and have forgotten to explain the story they are in.

That should tell you something about its quality I guess. I mean, the trailer pretty much says everything. Danny is a jerk, he pretends to be married for no strings attached weekend romps, and enjoys his anonymous sex life without remorse. He attends a party, happens to remove the ring for some medical work, and meets the girl of his dreams, Palmer (Decker). They click and roll around in the sand before she finds the ring. Unable to lie his way out or tell the truth—for a womanizer who fakes wives every date, he’s a horrible liar—he must create a combo of the two, a fake family with his assistant Katherine and her kids. It’s a half-assed scheme the writers surprisingly get, allowing the characters to call a spade a spade and foreshadow disaster in either abject failure or a moment of clarity when the young blonde walks into her lover’s place of work to see the supposed ex-wife answering phones. But I shouldn’t badmouth a Sandler comedy for being clichéd or dumb, that comes with the territory. All you need to know is that the whole clan goes to Hawaii, shenanigans ensue, and love is found.

I will give credit where credit is due, however, and admit there are some things to enjoy. It’s a symbiotic relationship between good and bad as Just Go with It contains both sides to every coin. The soundtrack is great with intentionally placed Sting songs throughout, but then there’s a really weird mash-up of The Police and Snow Patrol; there are some very sad cameos (Kevin Nealon), some that make you grin (Dan Patrick), and others that hit homeruns (Allen Covert); and to go along with the obviously incompatible pairing of Decker and Sandler, we are treated with some real chemistry between Adam and Jen. You will pull for them to get together, whether your naivety lets you believe they may somehow not end up that way. And the kids—now here is a gold star worthy of note. Griffin Gluck is fantastic as the quiet introvert who misses his absentee father, wants to swim with the dolphins, and can mafia-face blackmail with the best of them. But it is Bailee Madison’s Maggie who steals the show with charisma, a hilarious English accent, and brilliant comedic timing.

Despite it all being so obvious, there was one surprise I wasn’t expecting. Did anyone know Nicole Kidman was in this movie? Looks like ex-hubby Tom isn’t the only one trying to branch out into comedy, although the couch jumper definitely has a better feel for the genre. That’s not to say Kidman fails in her attempt, in fact I applaud her for the effort. She is over-the-top and everything you’d almost imagine her being if not for tales that she’s a wonderful person. The catty, fake, and boisterous buffoon is so much more fun to believe. Couple that with Dave Matthews’s unfortunate talent to act like a douchebag—to amazing effect—and we’ve got us a pleasant distraction from the banality of the plot. We are supposed to say nice things or nothing at all, right? So there you have it, a couple bright spots in an otherwise dreary whole. Just don’t forget to laugh once a certain, unafraid to emasculate himself husband arrives at the end.

[1] Brooklyn Decker (left) and Adam Sandler star in Columbia Pictures’ comedy JUST GO WITH IT. PHOTO BY: Tracy Bennett
[2] Jennifer Aniston (left) and Adam Sandler star in Columbia Pictures’ comedy JUST GO WITH IT. PHOTO BY: Tracy Bennett
[3] Nicole Kidman in Columbia Pictures’ comedy JUST GO WITH IT.

One Thought to “REVIEW: Just Go With It [2011]”

  1. Alex

    “The past few years have had one mantra—avoid Happy Madison productions.”

    that is great. couldn’t agree more. didn’t see this one and don’t plan on it.

    I miss Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Wedding Singer, etc. etc.

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